Far & Wide: Papua New Guinea, Malta, World Cup, France, United States, Canada

By STEVE MASCORD

Far & Wide

CONGRATULATIONS to Lae Tigers, who took out Papua New Guinea’s Digicel Cup with a 14-8 win over Angmark Gurias at the weekend.

The grand final was played in front of 15,000 rapturous fans at Sir John Guise Oval in Port Moresby at the weekend.
On a much sadder note, a man has died from injuries suffered when a riot broke out after the previous week’s preliminary final, won by the Gurias against Mt Hagen Eagles.
After an Eagles official punched the referee, fighting spilled into the streets. Joe Pidik was in a truck when he was hit in the head with a brick.

WHEN a group of developing league countries approached World Cup organisers recently about playing curtain-raisers during next year’s tournament, they were advised to put together a business plan.
Now, business plans don’t write themselves so the group – let by Malta – has asked for readers of this column to help out.
Far & Wide can reveals that if the curtain-raisers are played, they will have to be funded by the competing nations and will only be staged at the following venues:
* Sunday 29 October – Canberra Stadium – France vs Lebanon

* Friday 3 November – Canberra Stadium – Australia vs France

* Saturday 4 November – Sydney Football Stadium – England vs Lebanon

* Friday 10 November – Canberra Stadium – Fiji vs European Qualifier #3

* Saturday 11 November – Sydney Football Stadium – Australia vs Lebanon

If you would like to help out, go to generosity.com/sports-fundraising and type in “Emerging Nations feasibility report”.
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FRANCE are suddenly without a coach after Warrington assistant Richard Agar quit.
The change is linked to the election of Marc Palanques as president of the French Federation in July. He over from Carlos Zalduendo, who appointed Agar in February 2013.
On October 22, France will be Wayne Bennett’s first opposition as England coach when the sides meet at Parc des Sports in Avignon.
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FURTHER to our item last week about the Ohana Cup, plans for Wests Tigers to play a trial in Hawaii next year are gathering momentum.
Organiser Steve Johnson says the off-field work done by Canada, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa around the recent tournament in Honolulu was just as important as the two matches.
“Canada are moving their base somewhat from Toronto to British Columbia and are starting to look west,” said Johnson.
“This was a great opportunity for officials from the four countries to get together and talk about developing the game.”
The Hawaiian Rugby League have entered into a partnership with Wests Tigers.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: United States, Tonga, Fiji, Canada, Spain, Serbia, Ireland, Czech Republic

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

THE 2016 Ohana Cup at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium has been run and won, with organisers hailing the ever-expanding festival as a success.
Samoa enjoyed a big 40-6 win over Tonga while Fiji beat newcomers Canada 26-12. That was a pretty good debut for the Wolverines, considering half their side was back in Toronto playing the touring North-east England side.
In the curtain-raiser, NSW Police beat Hawaii Chiefs 26-20. Hawaiian league chief Steve Johnson is still trying to tempt NRL sides to the Islands.
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SPAIN and Serbia are to meet for the very first time on September 24, in the not-unpleasant locale of Valencia.
The Spanish have a big World Cup qualifier against Ireland at the same locale in October and will warm-up against the Serbians at Quatre Carreres. If you’re thinking of going, the game kicks off at the very Mediterranean time of 5pm.
The Serbians are looking for a new coach after Darren Higgins stood down.
“We regret Darren could not fit his professional and personal commitments together with the obligations needed for the Serbian national side,” said SRLF general secretary Slobodan Mank.
“We thank him for all he has done to raise the standard, he has put in some long lasting structures which we will benefit from.”
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CANADA are easily the most active international side at the moment, having fielded a “full international” side in two cities in two countries on the same day recently!
The Wolverines Under 17s side is currently on tour in Jamaica. The new British League One expansion side, Toronto Wolfpack, helped finance the Young Wolverines tour, which kicked off with a win in a Nines tournament.
Canada also fielded a military team against the full Czech Republic side recently, losing 64-0.
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AS we’ve said before, the rivalry between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Island puts NSW v Queensland in the shade.
But one similarity this year is the result, with Northern Ireland sealing the Origin series in game two, a 24-20 victory at Chambers Park, Portadown.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Wales, Germany, Serbia, Canada, Jamaica, Ireland

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Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
WALES have announced a ground-breaking tour of Germany in October.
They’ll play a warm-up in England at the end of September before taking on a British Army combination in their first match on German soil.
The international against the Germans will be played on October 22 with the venue yet to be announced.
The Dragons side will be chosen purely from residents. Tyson Frizell need not pack his bags.
The Germans are coming off a narrow win in the Griffin Cup; they beat the Netherlands just 8-6 in Rotterdam.
The final hour was scoreless with spectators describing the clash as intense.
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THERE’S an interesting annual match in Serbia – the national side takes on the national under 23s.
If all players under 23 played for the juniors, how do you think such a match would go in Australia.
In Serbia, it was the old fellas who ran out victorious recently, 68-22.
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IN Ireland they have an Origin match with real feeling – the Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland.
The series has kicked of this year and Northern Ireland won 34-30 in a cracker of a match. Looks like the domination of the fellas from the north isn’t just restricted to the southern hemisphere.
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WE’RE supposed to be unbiased here at Far & Wide but we have to admit we have a favourite club – the Toronto Wolfpack who enter the British third tier next year.
And recruitment is going well for North America’s first club team to play in a European club competition and the first pro side of any sport to be involved in promotion and relegation.
Hull FC youngster Reece Dean has signed on, as has Bradford’s Welsh international Dan Fleming..
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DON’T forget Far & Wide 360 is back on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 on the first Wednesday of each month.
@RLWfarandwide

Filed for RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Greece, United States, World Cup,

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

IN the aftermath of our story last week about the chaos engulfing Greek rugby league, the country has been kicked out of the European Federation.
The Greeks were earlier suspended for failing to meet fixture commitments and other irregularities.
Now the RLEF has announced: “The RLEF Board has formally expelled the Hellenic Federation of Rugby League from its membership after a four-month suspension period.
“During that time the HFRL was asked to establish its membership and youth programme, comply with financial audit requirements, and answer allegations of misappropriation of funds and maladministration of the sport.
“On 2 August the RLEF, invoking Article 18 of its constitution, wrote to the Hellenic Federation informing them of their expulsion and requested HFRL’s withdrawal from the membership by 9 August, which the Greek body confirmed in writing yesterday.
“In April 2016, the RLEF membership voted 33-1 in favour of the resolution to suspend the Hellenic Federation, for wilfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the overall governing body and international rugby league.”
The truth of the matter is that the sanctions are really aimed at one official: Tasos Pantazidis. Far and Wide does not suggest Pantazidis misappropriated funds but clubs have rebelled against his administration and the RLEF has effectively sided with those clubs by expelling Greece.
The RLEF now wants to run its own Greek competitions and is advertising for players.
Pantazidis has affiliated with the Modern Pentathlon authorities in Greece and, as far as we know, plans to continue running rugby league as well.
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SINCE last week we’ve has a long-ish chat with Jason Moore, the Australian promoter who wants to take the 2021 World Cup to the US, and came away impressed.
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We’ll share some of the key elements of what he had to say in a future feature but I asked him whether it would be such a bad thing if they were passed over this time and got the 2025 tournament.
“It’s almost like ‘shut the gate, the horse has bolted’,” he argued. “This is a golden opportunity for rugby league.
“It may be a once in a generation/lifetime scenario.”
The rugby union World Cup basically can’t come here before 2023. It would be a great piece of rugby league global marketing to get in ahead of that.
“But also it has to be the dominant rugby code in the United States because of the hosting of the World Cup.
“And it’s also the RLIF should consider as a bold statement.”
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DANISH winger Mads Hansen scored a hat-trick as Denmark took out the Nordic Cup match against Sweden 50-18. The trophy had already been secured by Norway.
That Tri-Series we told you about last week has also kicked off, with Belgium downing Germany 26-12 at Mendesportanlage.

FAR & WIDE: Greece, Germany, Belgium, United States

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

THINGS are getting nasty in Greece, with people threatened with arrest if they align with the former administration of rugby league there.
The Rugby League European Federation has recently ejected Greece as a full member due to dissatisfaction with the administration and set up its own league. The sport is aligned with, strangely enough, modern pentathlon from a government recognition perspective.
All clubs have been instructed to align with the new body.
Failure to do so isn’t just unrecognised by the RLEF – it’s unrecognised by Greek law.
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GERMANY and Belgium are about to embark on a tri-series with the Netherlands.
The series kicked off at the weekend in Dortmund, with the majority of the German side made up of players from Munster. Johnathan Boullon is Belgium’s captain.
Brexit hasn’t hurt rugby league’s ability to do great stuff with European funding, with a recent training camp for coaches held in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, rugby league has kicked off in Turkey with a coaching course for about 20 people leading to mens and women’s comps being instituted.
There will be 10 male and three female teams in a competition to kick off soon.
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SINCE our last column, the United States has entered a bid to host the 2021 World Cup.
The bid comes via an Australian sports promoter, Jason Moore, who said in a statement: “We are honoured and excited at the opportunity to showcase this sport to this nation – and the nation to this sport.
“Rugby league already has a strong following in several major US markets and, should the 2021 World Cup be staged in the United States, American sports fans new to rugby league and who have a hunger for gladiatorial-style sports are going to fall in love with this extraordinary game.” Moore wants to split the tournament between eight to 10 stadia and run a women’s tournament concurrently. He expects and answer from the RLIF in November. News of the bid was carried by the New York Times.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK
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FAR & WIDE: Eligibility, United States, Philippines, Canada

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

NIGEL Wood, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League and chairman of the Rugby League International Federation, recently held a media briefing and there were were some interesting revelations.
Firstly, Wood says the residency threshold allowing players to represent a country in which they reside is likely to be increased from the current two years. He also pointed to players being able to represent a tier two nation without changing their country of election – which would allow Origin stars to turn out for the Pacific countries.
Secondly, England will play a mid-season international during the NRL representative round next year. Wood says the game could be in Hong Kong or Dubai, but most likely in Britain or Australia.
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THE United States is shaping up for the World Cup strongly, having lapped Jamaica 54-4 in the penultimate game of the Americas Cup in Philadelphia.
The Americans led 20-0 at halftime and were far too strong for their Caribbean rivals in the second session. Jamaica was beaten by Canada in the earlier match.
Junior Vaivai, who we wrote about last week in Far & Wide, posted a try for the Americans.
That means the US and Canada will decide the American Championship when they meet on September 24 in Toronto.
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CANADA are only new to rugby league but they are putting some of the sport’s more established countries to shame.
A Canadian military team recently visited Poland, playing a local selection and holding coaching clinics for kids.
Elsewhere, Ireland semi-finals have been played with Longhorns defeating Athy Sharks 30-16, while the Tribesmen overcame Dublin City Exiles 30-24 in the other game.
In Italy, Spartans Catania will play XIII del Ducato in the grand final of the Italian Serie in Rome, following what has been described as “the most extensive domestic season in Italy’s 60-year rugby league history”.
They teams won their respective zone championships, each of which included four teams playing on a home-and-away basis.
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THE Filipino rugby league has launched a drive to find sponsors for individual players.
They are asking people in established rugby league countries to sponsor players for A$100 per year. With a competition kicking off in October, 80 sponsors are needed. The drive is being led by the league’s vice president, Paul Sheedy, a former Melbourne Storm player
If you can help, hit up the Philippines National Rugby League on Facebook.
@RLWfarandwide

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: World Cup, United States, Argentina, Chile, Brazil

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

WITH all the discussion about where World Cup games will be, there has been precious little by way of explanation for how the draw will actually work.
The venues and dates were announced last Thursday and the big controversy was that Sydney only got two games because the NSW government refused to bid.
But a quick look at the draw poster, which can be downloaded from the tournament’s website, poses more questions than it answers.
England and Australia are in the same group and a literal reading of the draw would see them meeting in the quarter-finals which, of course, would be outrageous.
In fact, as was the case in 2013, the draw is seeded in such a way as to maximise competitive pool games – with more teams from the strong pools progressing than those from the weaker divisions.
With the pools being A, B. C and D, the quarter-finals will work like this: A1 v B3, B2 v D1, B1 v A3, A2v C1.
Three teams from pools A and B progress, with only one each from C and D. That means the match between Lebanon and France will be very important while Scotland will have to – realistically – beat Tonga or Samoa.
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THE word ‘Journeyman’ is misused in rugby league.
It does not mean someone who moves around a lot. In fact, it is tradesman who never becomes proficient in his craft.
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The origins of this are from when a master tradesman would set up a shop but those who were not quite so good would have to travel around for work.
A ‘journeyman’ in sport can actually spend his whole career at one club. It just means he never attained the status of being a master of his trade.
Junior VaiVai is a journeyman in the misused, rugby league cliché sense. He has played for Samoa but may play against them for NSW Country on a tour of Samoa at the end of this year.
But he has also been recently selected for the US Hawks, which means he is in line to play for the Americans in the World Cup!
Junior is currently with Wollongong Wests.
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RUGBY league’s America’s Cup has kicked off, with Canada beating Jamaica 38-2 in Levittown, Pennsyvania. The tournament continues.
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OUR friends at the Latin Heat report that The three-way tournament between Argentina, Chile and Brazil on November 12-13 in Miramar, Argentina looks more like reality each day.
Visit the Latin Heat website or social media accounts if you want to see what you can do to make it happen!

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK